What Digital Adopters Want and How to Reach Them


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What Digital Adopters Want and How to Reach Them - a March 2010 paper from Ad Age and Yahoo.

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What Digital Adopters Want and How to Reach Them

  1. 1. WHITE PAPER Sponsored by March 15, 2010 SHINY NEW THINGS What Digital Adopters Want, How to Reach Them, and Why Every Marketer Should Pay Attention
  2. 2. Sponsored by CHART 1: EARLY ADOPTERS Everett Rogers’ now-famous curve TABLE OF CONTENTS 100% MARKET SHARE 50% INTRODUCTION 3 -EVERETT ROGERS, SOCIAL SCIENTIST, Early adopters ‘DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS’ sway the early majority, and INFLUENCE OF EARLY ADOPTERS 4 those groups -HOW APPLE COURSE-CORRECTED AFTER A MISSTEP can account -YOUTUBE RIDES THE WAVE for half of a -GOOGLE GETS IT WRONG 50 new product’s sales PROFILES OF DIGITAL ADOPTERS 7 -WHAT DRIVES THEM -THREE WHO INFLUENCE OTHERS DIGITAL ADOPTER BEHAVIOR 10 -MEDIA HABITS 0 -DEMOGRAPHICS Innovators Early Early Late Laggards -EXPECTATIONS 2.5% adopters majority majority 16% -SPENDING HABITS 13.5% 34% 34% Source: ChangeWave Research MARKETING TO DIGITAL ADOPTERS 16 -THE ERA OF BETA -WHY DIGITAL ADOPTERS CAN’T BE BOUGHT Introduction CONCLUSION REFERENCES 18 19 BY LAURA RICH laurarich2@yahoo.com then a “late majority,” then “laggards,” and eventually by all farmers, leading to bona fide CHARTS from its very beginnings, Google has relied market saturation. 1) ‘DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS,’ EVERETT ROGERS 3 on the early adopter—evident from its trade- Rogers’ model has endured. His book, 2) YOUTUBE, WEB 2.0 AND EARLY 5 mark “beta” stamp on new products. The com- “Diffusion of Innovations,” became the second- ADOPTERS, HITWISE pany’s test-mode approach has generally most-cited work of social scientists in the mid- 3) GOOGLE ANDROID EXPECTATIONS, 6 endeared early adopters who sought to be 2000s, in fact. And the early adopters studied by CHANGEWAVE RESEARCH included in a launch, while also providing cover Rogers are every bit as key to the marketing 4) GOOGLE NEXUS ONE SALES DISAPPOINT, 6 for missteps and abandoned products. Until, that cycle today as they were half a century ago,most FLURRY is, the company’s foray into telephony. Nexus notably when it comes to digital products. 5) HOURS SPENT WITH LIVE TV/DVR/ONLINE, 10 One was rebuked by so many early adopters Research firms such as ChangeWave boast NIELSEN that Google moved quickly to cut its upgrade 1,000-strong panels of early adopters, tapped for fee. And users of Google Voice owe a debt to their attitudes on new products and concepts in 6) TOP WEBSITES, NIELSEN 11 early adopters, whose loud grumbling forced the an effort to predict market success. Metafacts, 7) TRADITIONAL INTERNET ACCESS/ 11 company to improve service. But Google must another research company, surveys 31,000 users WIRELESS/HANDHELD ACCESS, be doing something right, because its mobile of technology every year, unearthing data that PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT operating system, Android, has given Google a reveals precisely who the early adopters are and 8) INDEX OF DIGITAL ACTIVITIES , 11 21% share of the smartphone market, from less what makes them tick. Everyone from Forrester PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT than zero at the beginning of 2009—putting it Research to Gartner is exploring the market 9) ATTITUDES AND AGE BREAKDOWN OF 12 in serious competition with Apple, whose dynamics and psychology of early adopters. EARLY ADOPTERS, SERENA SOFTWARE iPhone has 28% of the market. That is great news for marketers, for whom 10) TECHNOLOGY EXPECTATIONS, BRAND KEYS 13 The influence of early adopters over new Rogers’ curve now often spans a short period of 11) DIGITAL ADOPTER BEHAVIOR, FORRESTER 14 products and the cultural embrace of new inno- time. With so many sources of data available, vation are by now well known in the realm of it’s fairly easy to root out early adopters. market research. The behavior of these all- However, as Dr. Taly Weiss from powerful individuals was first studied by social Trendsspotting.com Research points out, MORE ON ADAGE.COM scientist Everett Rogers in 1962. At the time, finding early adopters isn’t at issue—it’s This is one in a series of white Rogers sought to understand what drove farm- understanding the role they play and how papers published by Advertising ers to adopt new products like hybrid corn they are to be approached. Getting it wrong Age. To see other Ad Age white seeds. What he found was that seeding prod- can cost companies revenue. But getting it papers and to obtain additional ucts that gained the approval of early adopters right can propel a product or brand to the copies of this white paper, go to went on to be accepted by an “early majority,” front of the pack. AdAge.com/whitepapers Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 3
  3. 3. WHITE PAPER The Influence of Early Adopters ONLINE VOICES You don’t want to mess with early adopters $399 Early adopters can be your greatest fans or biggest foes: a new price point for the iPhone led to howls HOW APPLE COURSE-CORRECTED $399, and that now is the right time to do it.... This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait AFTER A MISSTEP for the next price cut or to buy the new improved it is a rare thing when a CEO as self-assured as Steve model, you’ll never buy any technology product Jobs abandons his strategy for a product as strategically because there is always something better and less important as the iPhone. But just two months after the expensive on the horizon.... game-changing device was released back in 2007, Jobs Even though we are making the right decision to encountered such vocal grumbling from early adopters lower the price of iPhone, and even though the technol- that he had no choice. Their complaint? That they’d ogy road is bumpy, we need to do a better job taking been taken as fools, paying $599 for a product whose care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively price suddenly dropped to $399. Early adopters (or go after new ones with a lower price.... “fanboys,” as some Apple followers call themselves) felt We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone sucker punched, especially since many had waited in customers. We apologize for disappointing some of days-long lines to be the first to get their hands on the you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high IPHONE: must-have gadget of the moment. expectations of Apple.” Apple’s mobile “The cuts penalized the fanboys (including yours If there’s anything Apple knows better than any phone made truly) for being early adopters, and prompted iPhone player in the technology space, it is designing products fanboys drool, but owners to express their outrage across the web and and marketing them to a broad, diverse customer base. then they felt beyond,” wrote blogger Om Malik at GigaOm. But even Apple found how easy it is to get tripped up sucker-punched Noise from early adopters reached a fever pitch by that most important segment: early adopters. after a price drop when headlines began to pop up in mainstream media Defined as the first consumers to use or buy a prod- like The New York Times. Backed into a corner, Jobs uct, they can be an elusive and mercurial group, prone made amends, issuing a $100 rebate and an apology: to sudden shifts in opinion, possessing the weighty abil- “I have received hundreds of e-mails from iPhone ity to make their views well known and to put tremen- customers who are upset about Apple dropping the dous pressure on a company, even one as mighty as price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on Apple. The influence of early adopters stems from their sale. After reading every one of these e-mails, I have first-look status and their place in the adoption cycle. some observations and conclusions.... And their impact can be positive, as well, as they have First, I am sure that we are making the correct deci- the power to help a product or service gain traction and sion to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to find widespread adoption in the mainstream. 4 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  4. 4. Sponsored by CHART 2: OF YOUTUBE, WEB 2.0 AND EARLY ADOPTERS Share of visits to YouTube based on all internet visits in the U.S. .40% .27% Thanks to ‘Lazy Sunday’ on NBC’s ‘Saturday .30% Night Live,’ web users in 2005 found YouTube .20% .10% .00% 2005 January 2006 July Source: Experian’s Hitwise Sociologist Everett Rogers, an agriculture student at Iowa State University in the ‘60s, spent 12 years YOUTUBE RIDES THE WAVE studying the adoption of hybrid corn seeds. He identi- In the digital realm, early adopters have played a crucial fied five types of customer segments: the innovators, role in product launches, from Google’s Wave collabora- the early adopters, the early majority, the late majori- tion application to YouTube, Facebook and Tweetdeck. ty and the laggards. They play several roles, in varying degrees, depending on ‘LAZY SUNDAY’: Rogers asserted that early adopters played a cru- the product and the early adopter: test user, thought Widened the cial role because they tended to be “opinion leaders” leader, feedback loop—or all three. audience for ‘SNL,’ with a greater social status, a higher level of education “The reason you need to care about early adopters, and lit a fire under and, frequently, a higher income. Early adopters, even if you aren’t one, is because this small group of peo- YouTube Rogers concluded, were more socially active and, ple are going to change your world,” Seth Godin, author therefore, played a crucial role in influencing the next of books about marketing such as “Purple Cow,” told The group’s adoption of the product. New York Observer last fall. Apple, for one, owes its historic growth in large part Thanks to the rise of social media, early adopters have to early adopters, who famously show such remarkable the potential to have even greater influence over prod- rates of adoption. ucts they buy and try, especially when it comes to gadg- Most recently, 14% of users upgraded to the latest ets and online brands. According to Forrester Research, iPhone operating system within its first six days. 70% of adults use social networking sites, blogs or video. What’s more, sales of iPhone units seem to track with “In the last five years, early adopters have received a Rogers’ theory, building a solid base in their first year stage to influence others,” says Taly Weiss, founder and (3.7 million units). By the following year (2008), 13.8 CEO of Trendsspotting.com Research. “Social media million units shipped, while 25.1 million of the gave them the screen power. Early social media users devices shipped in 2009, according to IDC. Whereas have grown to be the main influencers, and their influ- Rogers documented a process that took 12 years, ence is far beyond technology.” adoption rates these days, as Apple demonstrates, are As Tancer notes, early YouTube users, back in markedly shorter. December 2005, spotted a “Saturday Night Live” digital “Today, that cycle is six weeks,” said Bill Tancer, gen- short called “Lazy Sunday” and began sending it around eral manager of global research at Experian Hitwise and the internet. The explosive popularity of the short, fea- author of “Click: What Millions of People Are Doing turing cast members Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg Online and Why It Matters.” performing a farcical hip-hop song about cannabis, Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 5
  5. 5. WHITE PAPER CHART 3: EXPECTATIONS How Google built buzz for its mobile platform Android helped the seven-month-old YouTube move from a neg- ligible share of the online vide market to a real contender, 30% according to Experian Hitwise (see chart, P. 5).“SNL” also 21% benefited, regaining its footing among a previously declining viewership. It also led the show to embrace the Respondents web to boost its reach. planning to buy For YouTube, it was an opportunity to gain traction 20 a smartphone and awareness among consumers, and helped the brand in the next 90 days who said “go from a complete unknown to besting Yahoo and Google Android Google video,”Tancer pointed out.YouTube, launched by is the operating former PayPal employees with a $11.5 million invest- 10 system they ment from Sequoia Capital, had gone live in May 2005. would prefer Marketing was nonexistent—but through word of mouth, a small and ultimately influential group of users tested the product and passed around links. 0 Jan. March June Dec. March June Sep. Dec. GOOGLE GETS IT WRONG 2008 2009 Source: ChangeWave Research For Google, early adopters have helped create immedi- ate, widespread buzz around its products. The launches of both Gmail and Google Wave tapped into the psy- chological idea of scarcity, with Google issuing a limit- CHART 4: NEXUS ONE Early adopters voiced disappointment, and sales sputtered ed number of “invitations” to use those services before they were finally rolled out to the mainstream. FIRST-MONTH SALES FIRST-WEEK SALES The outreach to the early adopter segment was inten- tional for Nexus One—but this time around, the outcome was mixed. In December 2009, the company distributed Apple’s iPhone 20,000 copies of the new phone to influencers such as Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist and early adopter in New York Google’s Nexus City who boasts 44,000 followers on Twitter and 63,000 One mobile subscribers to his blog, many of them also early adopters. phone, despite On January 5, 2010, the day the product went on Verizon’s its Android sale, Wilson posted to his blog from the new device. He Droid operating wrote: “In mid-December, as holiday gifts and cards system and were arriving daily in our office, I received a gift from successful Google. It was a Nexus One. I have been using it since seeding with early adopters, that day as my primary phone.... All in all, the Google Google’s had weak sales phone is a mighty fine phone and I’m staying on it for Nexus One in its first week now. Thanks, Google.” versus Apple The blog Engadget also received a review copy and, 0 200,000 400,000 600,000 likewise, wound up on a positive note: “Despite the minor niggles, HTC and Google have put together pret- Source: Flurry Inc., via ObamaPacman.com ty damn good looking and feeling phone; it’s not with- out faults, but they're pretty few and far between.” Despite the successes among early adopters, Nexus One also angered users who complained of poor 3G connectivity and a lack of customer support. Sales came in at a sluggish 80,000 during its first month on the market. By comparison, Apple sold 600,000 units of the first iPhone in its first month (see chart). The lesson? Early adopters aren’t so forgiving when they have to open their wallets.“Google is learning that what works for freebies doesn’t cut it for $529 smart- phones,” wrote PC World. 6 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  6. 6. Sponsored by Profiles of Digital Adopters ‘Our job, as it were, is to help take something that’s undocumented and discover its potential and its use. What are we already doing that these new tools make better? What can I do that I couldn’t do before? Does this new tool make anything I already do easier, or is it executed in a more clear way? It’s not about finding new tools just for the sake of getting one more blog post on the chart. It’s about hopefully rewarding developers for their efforts, rewarding early adopters and readers here by their getting early access to things that make a difference, and rewarding ourselves by building out the community in a new place. We are always on the lookout for shiny objects. We find them all the time and are happy to share with you. But if I’ve found one that works for me, you can expect me to latch onto it like a barnacle.’ —LOUIS GRAY, EARLY ADOPTER, BLOGGER AND MARKETING CONSULTANT, MAY 17, 2009 you can’t dip into Twitter or the tech blogs without ly to seek out the information needed to inform their running into someone who claims to be “an early adoption decisions.” But they also “seek to mitigate risk adopter.” They are folks like Gray, a resident of Silicon through information.” Valley (and all that implies), active in a clubby online community of early adopters such as himself. I STATUS SEEKING But there are others who hold just as much influence, Early adopters take pride in showing off their purchas- like 45-year-old Julie Strietelmeier of Columbus, Ind., es. Early adopters choose products that represent them TANCER who reaches 300,000 people per month with her 13- to the world—their preferences as well as their social Experian Hitwise’s year-old blog The Gadgeteer, or Matthew Caldecutt, a status.” The study notes that this motivation dates global research 26-year-old New Yorker. back to 1899 and Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous con- guru and an early These are not necessarily the nerds who populated sumption,” and the accumulation of goods a way to adopter the pages of “Microserfs,” Douglas Coupland’s iconic convey status. 1995 tome about people who work in the technology space.These days, early adopters make up a much broad- er category. That’s because, as Sean Captain, a strategist WHAT DRIVES THEM in the media, entertainment and technology group at Bill Tancer, who studies early adopters, is one himself— Iconoculture, put it: “We’re at a point now where adopt- not uncommon among technophiles, according to Paul ing technology is not the same as understanding tech- Carton, VP-research at ChangeWave Research. nology. There are people on Twitter who don’t under- “For gadgets, it’s the desire to be the first kid on the stand the Twitter API, but they don’t have to. The eti- block to do that. I don’t know what drives me—I just quette is more important.” He added that “only a small know I want it. I keep going back to the iPad site to see if portion of the population go in for the geek factor”: the they’ve opened registration,” said Tancer, who fits both rest are seeking “cultural relevance. Anything commu- the risk-taking and status-seeking profile. nication-related is more culturally based.” “What motivates me as an early adopter is marketing Early adopters may fit a range of stereotypes, but a that shows what the product can do for me very specifi- study by Forrester Research that marries their “techno- cally,” said John Vasko, a social media specialist. The mes- graphic” profiles with psychological theories found that saging he responds to the most “combines what you can three key drivers compel early adopters: do as well as a lifestyle approach. I’m on a quest to find SCOBLE more efficient ways of doing things.” I RISK TAKING Uses his blog “Early adopters are not always the people with the Scobleizer to opine A desire for novelty that exceeds caution and reflects a biggest reach, or the biggest footprint,” said Steve Rubel, on new products “universal openness to new experiences, including new senior VP-director of insights at Edelman Digital. “They products.... They are willing to take a chance on a prod- are the people who are respected [for their opinions on] uct with little to no market history.”There is also a desire what to buy. Every circle has one—like the family geek, to be first. the one who advises everyone on what to buy. Robert Scoble is that on a huge scale.” Scoble, 45, is a former I INFORMATION GATHERING Microsoft employee who operates the well-known blog “There is an informational burden that needs to be over- Scobleizer. He now works for IT hosting company come for new products, and early adopters are more like- Rackspace, and runs a startup called Building43. Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 7
  7. 7. WHITE PAPER A FEW REAL-LIFE EARLY ADOPTERS LOUIS GRAY AGE: 32 LOCATION: Silicon Valley JOB: Marketing consultant “how can you reach out to us? It takes someone who engineer: “Funnily enough, the Reader team just had a watches very closely,” said Louis Gray. “Early adopters big, all-day brainstorming session about where to go want to feel unique, like you know them.” next, and ideas similar to many of your suggestions One can learn a lot about Gray, 32, an early adopter were discussed.” and marketing consultant who lives in Silicon Valley Another time, Gray, a fan of LinkedIn, thought the PDF with his wife and two kids, from reading his blog. Gray has plenty of opinions about technology and shares site should allow individuals to download their resumes as a PDF, something now commonplace on LinkedIn and Louis Gray, an them in lists of “suggestions,” such as “10 Suggestions similar sites. He posted as much on his site. early fan of to Improve Google Reader.” He doesn’t like to spend Whether Gray is at all responsible for changes LinkedIn, time writing about things that don’t interest him. “I made to products he writes about, the fact that he even suggested have more fun spending time with products I want to thinks they should be made empowers him and gives letting users know better,” he said. him validation. “I like going to LinkedIn and seeing download For Gray, the rewards of being an early adopter are the little PDF and thinking, ‘Oh, I had a part in that,’” resumes as a information and influence. Gray talks about his sugges- he said. PDF tions for Google Reader, a product he relies upon Gray has about 14,000 followers on Twitter and throughout the day, every day, to scan hundreds of news 1,500 friends on Facebook (besting Robert Scoble, the sources and distribute links to his followers on Twitter most famous early adopter, by about 100). His blog traf- and readers of his blog. He found the site lacking in cus- fic is much lower—less than 1,000 visitors per day, tomization and search functions—so, he wrote about it. according to QuantCast, though his readers are avid The post garnered a record number of comments, was technology enthusiasts and/or early adopters like him- posted on Digg, was linked to by other influential early self, and active on his message boards. adopters such as Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble and the “Companies do listen when early adopters talk, blog TechMeme, and led Gray to achieve record traffic. especially when they have a large microphone,” But most telling was the comment left by a Google Gray said. 8 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  8. 8. Sponsored by iPhone apps to GPS devices and game consoles. JULIE STRIETELMEIER Before becoming a blogger, Strietelmeier AGE: 45 ran a multi-line bulletin board service, a pre- LOCATION: Columbus, Ind. web service that accumulated a generally tech- JOB: Editor in Chief, The Gadgeteer savvy user base. Her TV-viewing habits trend toward reality shows and drama: “Survivor,” “Prison Break,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The with her pixie hair cut and wire-rim Biggest Loser,” “The Amazing Race.” glasses, it’s easy to take Strietelmeier for a And even though her blog logs 300,000 nerd. And that she is, proudly. Since 1997, unique visitors per month, she spends little Strietelmeier has reviewed digital products on time building her Twitter following, which her blog, The Gadgeteer, which also has fea- stands at 1,500. tured the critiques of 140 other reviewers. Strietelmeier is an “information gatherer” Working from a 27-inch iMac in her office in through and through. Asked in a blog inter- central Indiana, Strietelmeier and her four full- view about what drives her desire to review time editors publish several reviews each day, gadgets, she replied: “the fun that I receive on products ranging from e-readers and from learning about new products.” event lists, like the one for the Droid in MATTHEW CALDECUTT October 2009 held by Verizon and Motorola, AGE: 32 where he was offered the device for free (serv- LOCATION: New York City ice not included). This approach proved effec- JOB: PR executive, Trylon SMR tive: “An early look at a product is excellent,” he said. Just because Caldecutt’s name is not on a list matthew caldecutt comes from a long doesn’t mean he won’t show up. When Urban line of early adopters. “My grandfather came Signals held a launch party for its iPhone app, over from England in the 1920s and wanted to Caldecutt wasn’t invited—but got in anyway as work at New York Telephone because he heard the guest of a guest.At the party,he downloaded they’d be using IBM machines for account- the app and wrote about it and the party on ing,” he said. “My father went to work there, Tumblr. Caldecutt was among the first to use too, to work on some of the new things they Dodgeball and Foursquare, two location-based were developing. And I had a Commodore 64 mobile apps. And because he is connected to in 1984, when I was eight.” technology entrepreneurs, he was able to pro- These days, Caldecutt works at a PR firm in vide direct feedback to both companies. Manhattan, and his early adopter passion is Caldecutt’s circle includes people like “fueled by my interest in communications Christina Warren, an Anne Hathaway lookalike technology—what can make communicating who proclaims on her blog:“Don’t let the obses- with people easier.” sion for pretty clothes fool you. I am a hardcore Younger early Caldecutt owns an iPhone and a Droid that geek—disassembled computers and makeup adopters aren’t going he picked up at an event put together by Verizon and Motorola. Every night, in fact, he bags reside in the same space.”Warren, 27, lives in Atlanta and writes for blogs including to be dazzled by new can usually be found at such gatherings, sharing Mashable. She enthuses at the prospect of technology just details in real time with his 3,000 followers on attending the Future of Web Apps conference because it’s new: Twitter or via Tumblr. Caldecutt “checks in” on Foursquare every time he enters an establish- and hosting an online show covering the event. Followers on Twitter? 13,000 and counting. Products have to prove ment, and has become a “mayor” at 10 places in Caldecutt and Warren are part of a demo their usefulness to the New York, based on the number of points he that has proven inconsistent in its embrace of group racks up each time he checks in. technology, notes Iconoculture’s Sean Captain. Caldecutt isn’t at the center of the early “Gen Y and ‘Gen We’ [as Iconoculture terms adopter clique, and he’s not necessarily han- the pre-Gen Y generation] don’t necessarily dled with kid gloves or given personal atten- jump on new technology just because, but only tion. But he does expect to find himself on if it’s useful to them and their network,” he said. Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 9
  9. 9. WHITE PAPER Digital Adopter Behavior CHART 5: MEDIA SAVVY Media use among those who say they’re first to try new technology The assumption is that early adopters are younger, because younger equals tech-savvier. But technophiles PERSONS 18+ P18+ EARLY ADOPTERS span all age groups. And their behavior can be surprising. 300 MINUTES PER DAY 298.4 As Captain points out,Gen Y and “Gen We”prefer texting (an older technology) to tweeting (a newer one). The number of minutes per 200 day spent watching live MEDIA HABITS TV by those If Gray and Scoble are anything like one group of digi- who identify tal adopters studied by Claritas, ranging in age from 45 as the first to to 64, they read The New York Times, The Wall Street try new tech Journal, The New Yorker, Fortune and Esquire. They 100 products watch BBC America, The Sundance Channel, Independent Film Channel and Showtime. They listen to National Public Radio and ESPN Radio. Note: Online time spend data, Claritas found that younger digital adopters (ages 25 0 based on online users Source: Nielsen People Meter, to 44) weren’t much different. The firm reported this MRI/NPM Fusion, DVR Playback Online Live TV September 2009 group as reading magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire, Fortune, Forbes, Food & Wine, The Wall Street louis gray meets up occasionally with Robert Scoble to Journal and Architectural Digest. They regularly tune talk about technology. As Gray said, they inevitably into IFC, pay-per-view sports, VH1, Sundance, BBC start by asking one another: “Well, what’s next? Where America and MTV. They also listen to NPR. is it?” “It” is the shiny new thing, and early adopters A more ethnically diverse set of adopters Claritas sometimes travel in packs to find it—seeking it out on terms the “Bohemian mix” have similar habits, but sup- blogs, on Twitter, in magazines, in the real world, and at plemented with niche media brands. This group reads events such as the Consumer Electronics Show held in Black Enterprise, The New York Times, Essence, Vibe, Las Vegas each January. The New Yorker and Vogue. They watch Noticiero, Gray and his cohorts use social media and their own Telemundo, BET, IFC, The Disney Channel, MTV, blogs to share their knowledge and opinions about new Cinemax and Showtime and soccer on any channel. technology. “A group of us try these things and talk They listen to radio formats such as urban contempo- about them on our blogs, on Twitter, in person,” he rary , jazz , contemporary hit and NPR. explained, describing his community as having “similar These early adopters are more mainstream than their avatars” in the real world as online. geekier forbears—though that group does still exist, as “There are a lot of myths and fables about early “extreme techies,” in Nielsen’s parlance, a subset of what adopters,” said Dan Ness, principal analyst at Metafacts. is now a broader group that self identifies as early adopters CAPTAIN: “A lot of imagery around them.” But early adopters by saying they are first to try new technology (see chart Early adopter come in a variety of shapes and sizes, something he says above). “Extreme techies” account for 8% of the adult aficionados can be marketers don’t always want to accept. broadband population in the U.S., or 4.6 million con- found on A/V Several years ago, a Metafacts client objected to one of sumers. Extreme techies’ media habits are largely focused science forums the individuals in an assembled focus group Metafacts online, including 91 minutes of web video per week, and other sites had promised would be made up of early adopters. The though 64% of this group also watches live TV. discussing what’s suspect individual was male and in his forties—presumed Captain says that when it comes to consuming infor- culturally cool to be over the hill. So, the thinking went, how could he mation online, the wider early adopter segment, “who possibly be an early adopter? “They wanted him are just generally fond of technology, are reading main- removed,” Ness said. That is, until the subject whipped stream tech sites like TechCrunch, Gizmodo and out his mobile phone and PDA. “He was one of the first Engadget. But the aficionados are in user groups like in the Chicago market to carry a mobile phone,” Ness A/V science forums, trading discussions back and forth, said. “True early adopters are about what they do, not ‘90s-style.Wired, Mashable and BoingBoing—those are what you see.” more about what’s culturally cool.” 10 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  10. 10. Sponsored by Marquest Media & Entertainment Research looked CHART 6: EARLY ADOPTERS ONLINE more closely at video consumed by early adopters, find- Those who identify as early adopters make up a larger portion of the audience of these sites ing that most watch TV “on a time-shifted basis, use EARLY web video frequently and are 14 times more likely to DEMOGRAPHIC UE (000) ADOPTERS INDEX have the capability to deliver their web video to the TV Break Media 1.94% 2.74% 141 set. They are also six times more likely to have a mobile phone that can play video, and are 10 times more likely Gizmodo .98 1.38 140 to subscribe to such a service on their mobile phones.” Fox Entertainment Group 1.26 1.77 140 Nielsen’s May 2009 study of early adopters of tech- Gawker Media Network 3.26 4.12 126 nology found, unsurprisingly, a propensity for technol- Hulu 3.90 4.89 126 ogy ownership. According to the report, early adopters own an average of four cross-platform devices (includ- MTV Networks 5.11 6.34 124 ing gaming consoles and cell phones) and use them to NetShelter Tech Media 6.97 8.53 122 view TV or movie content, with 38% also having con- ESPN Digital 10.82 13.13 121 nected TV sets to their computers. IMDb 9.21 10.99 119 Teens, in particular, are devoted cell phone users, according to a 2009 report from Nielsen called “How Men’s Health .64 .77 119 Teens Use Media.” Teens make up 20% of the mobile Source: Nielsen MRI/NPM Fusion, Sept. 2009 video market and represent early adopters of this tech- nology. Said Nielsen: CHART 7: ETHNICITY REVEALS TRENDS % as share of all adults “Teens text at incredible rates, but are early adopters of all mobile media. Increasingly, the mobile phone TRADITIONAL INTERNET ACCESS WHITE BLACK HISPANIC plays a critical role in the media lives of teens. In the U.S., 77% of teens already have their own mobile Have desktop computer 66% 51% 64% phone. Another 11% say they regularly borrow one.” Have laptop computer 47 34 56 Online yesterday 59 45 60 DEMOGRAPHICS Online several times at home 30 21 32 Online several times at work 28 18 36 There is disagreement over how many households or what portion of the U.S. represents early adopters of Internet user 79 67 84 new technology. According to Claritas, fully 29% of Broadband user 65 46 68 households are early adopters, more than double the WIRELESS/HANDHELD ACCESS 13% Everett Rogers measured out nearly half a centu- ry ago. Marquest dubs early adopters of technology Wireless internet users 54% 60% 68% “SuperTrons” and finds that 15% of households fit this Handheld data (ever) 66 71 83 bill. Finally, Bridge Ratings finds 2.5% of the general population to be early adopters of new technology. Handheld data (yesterday) 41 48 62 Early adopters are a well-off set, earning an average Mobile internet (ever) 28 48 47 household income well above the national average of $50,303 (2008), according to Claritas, which found that Mobile internet (yesterday) 17 29 29 across all early adopter groups, the median household Source: Pew Internet & American Life April survey conducted March 26-April 19, 2009 N=2,253.; margin of error is +/- 2; survey conducted in English income was no less than $51,588 and in some cases as high as $84,506. CHART 8: INDEX OF DIGITAL ACTIVITIES Among those who are online or cell phone users Among different age groups and genders, some trends are evident. Bridge Ratings looked at early WHITE BLACK HISPANIC adopters among Baby Boomers, splitting the Boomers into two distinct groups by age—those born before Number of online activities 4.1 3.3 4.1 1955 and those born after. It found that the older Number of handheld data activities 2.2 3.1 3.7 Boomers were less likely to be early adopters than the general population, although younger Boomers Total number of digital activities 6.3 6.4 7.8 indexed much greater than the population (only 2% of % who are internet or cell phone users 91% 87% 94% older Boomers were early adopters, while 15% of Source: Pew Internet & American Life April survey, conducted March 26-April 19, 2009 younger ones were classified as such). N=2,253; margin of error is +/- 2; survey conducted in English Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 11
  11. 11. WHITE PAPER CHART 9: IT’S ALL ABOUT OUTLOOK A 2008 study for Serena Software identified five unique attitudinal segments among technology early adopters based on differentiated responses to key questions ALPHAS ACCIDENTAL PRACTICAL BALANCED LITE Predominantly white Predominantly white Predominantly white Predominantly white Predominantly white males males 35-44. Most females 25-54. Not as males 25-44. The most females 25-44. Although 35-54. The most resistant to likely to agree that comfortable with hesitant to agree that similar to Accidentals, adopting new technologies technology has a technology as Alphas, technology has a they do not place before they are mainstream, positive impact on the Accidentals still have a positive impact on the technology or work at they are less likely to take world (94%) and to be deep understanding world (only 50%) or the center of their lives. risks, actively solve working full-time of how technology their lives (20%). Approaching their jobs problems or create (91%). These are the can improve their Using all the as a means to fund other efficiency. At work, they may tech elite, immersed in lives. With a less direct technology that most things they enjoy, this adopt a new process once it technology. Alphas approach at work, other types are excited group leads more is proven effective in see technology as they consider about, but they are relaxed lives than other another department.The having a significant, technology a tool to less enthusiastic about types, and are hesitant to most risk averse segment in positive impact on solve problems, but the devices. They adopt emerging relationship to technology their lives and ability not the key to typically report to the technology until they see (only 1% are the first to try to communicate. At everything. Similar to Alphas and how it relates to their new technology), their work work, they are Balanced, but more Accidentals at work, personal lives. The most life (only 7% take frequent delegators, focused on work and but are focused on likely to be students and workplace risks) and at home developing solutions enthusiastic about implementation. the least likely to be (only 4% take frequent risks to hand off. technology. workaholics. in their personal lives). Source: Serena Software Masher Profile Exploratory Research Study, March 2008. Marketing research consultancy Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates conducted 700 online interviews of U.S. consumers. Each respondent was a PC and internet user, an early adopter heavily reliant on technology, and a decision maker on all technology purchases. Nielsen’s “extreme techies” tend to be male (63%), Telemundo and Experian Simmons Research. Some of 53% with a mean age of 31 and an average annual household income of $67,000. Also, nearly half (47%) are married, and 57% have children younger than 18 at home. their findings: I 90% have a cell phone (versus 79% of the gener- al population); of young women While such a group holds down one end of the early I 66% use text messaging (versus 38% of the (Gen Y) identified adopter spectrum, a 2005 study by Women in general population); themselves as Technology International, IDC and Intel found that I 61% have taken photos on a cell phone (versus women were becoming a greater part of the early 79% of the general population); and early adopters. adopter population, too: I Two-thirds have been online for more than One researcher “While women will not buy something for the sake five years. noted they are of being first, women are early adopters of technologies “the first to try that will clearly improve their lives. New technologies African-Americans are more likely to use the mobile new technolo- such as home networking (57%) and WiFi (24%) are web, but have much lower than average broadband gies, even before favorites among women, allowing them to do more in adoption, according to a 2009 study of wireless internet less time.” use by Pew Research, which found: they become Further, 53% of young women (Gen Y) in a 2008 I 48% of African-Americans have, at one time, mainstream” study by Serena Software identified themselves as early used their mobile devices to access the internet adopters. As the researcher said, these are “the first to for information, e-mailing or instant messaging try new technologies, even before they become main- (compared to the national average of 32%); stream, ranking higher than any other profile.” I 29% of African-Americans use the internet on Hispanic and African-American consumers also their handheld devices on an average day (com- boast early adopters. Hispanics, in particular, adopt pared to national average of 19%); and more technology and consume more media than the I Compared to 2007, when 12% of African- general population, according to a study by Yahoo, Americans used the internet on their mobile 12 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  12. 12. Sponsored by devices on an average day, use of mobile web is CHART 10: EARLY ADOPTERS EXPECT MORE FROM TECHNOLOGY up by 141%. When asked how important these features were when considering a smartphone or computer laptop, early adopters over-indexed compared to regular consumers on just Pew compared the use of digital technology among about every feature African-Americans to that of white consumers: I By a 59% to 45% margin, white Americans are SMARTPHONES U.S. POPULATION EARLY ADOPTERS more likely to go online using a computer on a typical day than African-Americans; and 200 170 I When mobile devices are included in the mix, the Brand gap is reduced to half; 61% of whites go online reputation, 160 which on the average day when mobile access is includ- connotes ed, while 54% of African-Americans do. status, and the latest OS Across a range of digital activities—some online, 120 attract early typically using a computer; others being non-voice adopters data activity on a mobile device—African- Americans and whites, on average, perform the 80 same number of activities. 40 TECHNOLOGY EXPECTATIONS “Just because they’re early adopters doesn’t mean 0 they’re looking at the category any different than any- Brand Connectivity Applications, Brand Reputation one else,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Value & & Ease Navigation & Operating Brand Keys, a research firm that studies consumer Support of Use & Multimedia System expectations. “What drives the category for them is pre- cisely the same as everyone else. They look at it the same as the laggards.” COMPUTER LAPTOPS The difference, he said, is what they expect a product will deliver. Early adopters possess higher standards for 200 161 products and the companies behind them. Devices with a Brand Keys found that when it comes to smart- new design phones in particular, early adopters are likely to have 160 are also a higher expectations than the average population for the quick way to brand, applications and navigation features than the signal to the general population. And when it comes to online books tribe you’ve and music, early adopters expect a wider range of choic- 120 got a ‘shiny es than the general population. new thing’ 80 SPENDING HABITS Because early adopters tend to have a higher income 40 level than others in the adoption cycle, they are a more reliable group of spenders, according to Forrester Research. Spending online bucked the recession and 0 stayed on course (20% of consumers spent more than Pricing & Brand Technologically Innovative $1,000 in the second quarter of 2009, per Forrester). It Warranty Reputation/ Advanced Design/Size also reported that 50% of Americans are gamers, 63% Support have a broadband connection, 27% own HDTVs and Lowest Highest 75% have both a cell phone and a PC. LOYALTY DRIVERS – ORDER OF IMPORTANCE A 2007 study by Burst Media, after it created the Note: Numbers are indices, benchmarked against 100. Early Adopters Network, reported that early adopters Source: 2010 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 13
  13. 13. WHITE PAPER CHART 11: DIGITAL ADOPTER BEHAVIOR ‘Which of the following do you agree with or do?’ EARLY ADOPTERS LAGGARDS* 70% CAREER- FAMILY- ENTERTAINMENT- Early INFORMATION ALL MOTIVATED MOTIVATED MOTIVATED ALL adopters are I like to shop around before information 70% 71% 73% 67% 58% gatherers who making a purchase spend more I research products for purchase 53 56 52 51 34 time I use comparison shopping sites 10 11 10 10 5 researching products and NOVELTY then telling I’m always willing to try or do new things 46 44 39 52 25 other people what to buy I am constantly looking for new ways 26 16 9 48 9 to entertain myself STATUS Base: 22,488 North American adults I like to impress people with my lifestyle 11 11 4 15 2 * Base: 21,877 North American adults I like to show off my taste and style 13 10 5 22 3 Source: North American Technographics I am influenced by what’s hot * Benchmark Survey, 2009 12 11 7 17 5 (US, Canada), Forrester and what’s not Research I LEADERSHIP 62% were more likely to purchase new technology products than their friends and family, and that they turned to 68% are more likely to have purchased three or more the internet most often to learn about new products. computers in the past two years. Claritas, in its study of three types of early adopters, of early adopters observed that they tended to purchase high-end foreign I DYNAMISM are more likely auto brands like BMW and Mercedes, shop in high-end 58% are more likely to have purchased three or more to upgrade a stores like Neiman-Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, and flat-screen TVs in the past two years. mobile phone as travel by plane at least three times per year. According to a study by Nielsen and Mindset I ASSERTIVENESS soon as a new Media, early adopters of new technology score high 62% are more likely to purchase a new cell phone model becomes on certain personality traits (leadership, dynamism when the latest and greatest model hits the streets. available and assertiveness) while scoring low on others (mod- esty). Those traits indicate a propensity for certain I MODESTY purchase habits: 45% are more likely to upgrade when a new model is available. 14 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  14. 14. WHITE PAPER GOOGLE CHROME COMIC BOOK Appealing to early adopters’ sense of discovery, this 38-page comic book revealed the inner workings of the new browser update channels to release Google Chrome to a com- munity of early adopters. The channels are essentially a never-ending beta test and a continuous feedback loop that lets us rapidly develop new ideas into solid product features. BEYOND BETA With Chrome, Google went beyond its simple “beta” tactic: it also produced a 38-page comic book and distrib- uted it to journalists, employees and some key early adopters. The comic book, written by Scott McCloud, Marketing to revealed the inner workings of Google’s new browser. “Google appeals to early adopters’ sense of discov- ery,” Experian Hitwise’s Tancer said. Digital Adopters The stakes were higher with Chrome than other Google products. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had 67% market share, followed by the open source Mozilla’s ‘Release “we live in the era of ‘beta,’” said Iconoculture’s Sean Firefox, which had rapidly gained on Explorer in the pre- Captain. vious few years and held at 23% of the market. early, We can credit Google for that. With every new prod- The comic book was intended to differentiate release uct launch, the company slaps on a “beta” label and Chrome from the other browsers by appealing to the often. waits for the early adopters show up—which they early adopters’ interest in how it worked. It garnered inevitably do. Google Wave, an organization tool, was massive attention in the mainstream media and on tech We think launched on an invitation-only basis. So was Gmail. blogs, and one year later, off came the “beta” label. that’s the Both products carried the “beta” label until early However, Chrome had only garnered 3% market share, best adopters had signed on, provided feedback and improved and though early adopters appreciated its speed over the product. There are no secrets about this approach. Explorer, they also voiced complaints that it didn’t do way to Writing on Chromium, the blog for Google developers enough to protect privacy. develop of the Chrome browser, the strategy was explained by “Beta is almost too late now,” said Tancer. “If it was software Mark Larson, Technical Program Manager: ‘alpha,’ we might be more forgiving.” “Release early, release often. We think that’s the “Forgiving” is key, as many early adopters see them- that best way to develop software that delights people. With selves as part of the development process. “What mar- delights Google Chrome, we want to release fewer features keters do right is use feedback from the community to people.’ more often instead of making you wait 12 months for shape the products,” said Edelman’s Rubel. “What the next Major Dot-Oh Release Jam-Packed With works is collaborating, when they view early adopters as -MARK LARSON, Features. We can get your feedback faster, fix things a partner and not just as an amplifier.” GOOGLE faster, and release new improvements as soon as “Marketers, upon release of something, need to able they're ready. We want Google Chrome to stay nimble to take a lot of flak and be able to respond to it,” said so it can keep pace with changes in the sites and web John Vasko, a social media specialist and early adopter. apps you use. “Even,” he added, “if it is just in the form of ‘Thank you Because we don’t have those big Dot-Oh release for your feedback.’” milestones on the calendar, we don’t have long periods Caldecutt, the trend-setting early adopter, vented his of beta testing new features. Instead, we use automatic frustrations with AT&T’s service on his Twitter feed. 16 | March 15, 2010 | Shiny New Things
  15. 15. Sponsored by “AT&T wrote back to me,” he said, and helped him get to worry about. Unlike Google, Apple doesn’t release its a better deal on his service. “I followed up with a tweet,” products early. So, early adopters of the iPhone, iMac, noting that the company’s rapid response turned his ill MacBook or any other Apple product must wait until will into goodwill. they’re available to the general public. According to Taly Weiss at Trendsspotting: “Early But Steve Chazin, who runs the MarketingApple blog adopters are physically easier to reach but now much and once held sales and engineering roles at Apple, noted harder to ‘buy’. Most of the brands (and Apple is one big that through its marketing, the company targets early GODIN: exception) have lost their attractiveness. Brands that can adopters while striving to appeal to aspirational main- ‘If you want to stick give early adopters a good reason why will have a chance stream customers.“Apple doesn’t pay that much attention around for a while, to influence. Good value can be new tools to experiment to early adopters,” he said. “Apple believes the customer you need to make with. If early users will find it handy, they will be willing hasn’t thought of all the cool things.” But as noted in the the difficult sales to spread it. Otherwise, they will not hesitate to share iPhone price-cut example,Apple has figured out it needs to to the middle of their real thoughts.” find a balance between acknowledging the role of the early the market, or While more than half of all early adopters research adopter and selling a lot of new devices to that majority in have a ready products before they buy them, only one-third of lag- the middle of the adoption curve. supply of new stuff gards do, according to Forrester.Thus, information is king ready to entertain in this equation. A Forrester report observed: “Smart the never-satisfied early adopters’ investment in information campaigns geared toward early adopters will give these consumers the information OVEREMPHASIZING THE EARLY ADOPTER they want and will allow product strategists to influence By limiting its reliance on early adopters, Apple fits with the market more effectively pre-launch.” Seth Godin’s view that it’s possible to overemphasize the Early adopters can become quite specific in how they early adopter phase. “If you want to stick around for a want to receive that information. Rob Diana, a 38-year- while, you need to make the difficult sales to the middle old early adopter who runs the RegularGeek blog, wrote: of the market, or have a ready supply of new stuff ready “First, we want communication, not just a press to entertain the never-satisfied early adopters,” he said. release. Sending a press release to a blogger or early Godin suggests that treating segments of your cus- adopter shows that we are just another place to get tomers differently can work if marketers appear consistent some coverage and you really did not look at who you and fair. “People in coach don’t mind the folks in first class were sending it to. For non-free products, pricing getting more service, because they’d like to be there one becomes part of the whole package. If you want early day,” he said.“People at nightclubs like watching celebrities adopters to review a new service, the price is a major being whisked to the front of the line, because it reinforces CHAZIN: factor. A service may be fantastic for a blogger until their belief that they’re at a special place. The trouble kicks ‘Apple believes the they see a $5000 price tag. Timing is important as well, in not when you treat different people differently, but if it’s customer hasn’t but not just an early look at a product. It is not entirely random, or unfair, or unpredictable.“ That’s the painful les- thought of all the helpful to get access to something that is not even in a son Apple learned with the release of the iPhone. cool things’ private beta. The product would likely change so much When it comes to early adopters, the segmentation is by the time it is released to the public that the initial even more granular.As Forrester noted in a report on mar- review becomes worthless. Early access to a product that keting to Gen Y called “Influence the Youth Brand will be launched in a few days would be very cool for Influencers”: “Marketing leaders should understand that some people, though.” brand leaders share more of their interests in small, face- Marketers do have to be careful in their communica- to-face groups rather than online. By linking entertain- tion with bloggers ever since a ruling by the FTC in ment and marketing, by giving brand leaders products October 2009 requiring bloggers to reveal any connec- and services they can customize, and by integrating expe- tions to marketers and whether they received free prod- riences from the online world to the offline one, market- ucts or were paid for them. ing leaders can help ensure that their brands are the ones Those blogging about Apple products won’t have this brand leaders share.” Shiny New Things | March 15, 2010 | 17